Kerry’s Latest Snowden Comments Are Moronic, Offensive, and Dangerous

Written by on May 29, 2014 in Government, Politics, Whistleblower with 1 Comment

Natasha Lennard | Commondreams | May 29th 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry is sadly mistaken in his attempt to equate "justice" with "the American state." Defending that comparison is a losing battle

US Secretary of State John Kerry is sadly mistaken in his attempt to equate “justice” with “the American state.” Defending that comparison is a losing battle

Secretary of State John Kerry repeated his line on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden Tuesday with the most moronic aplomb to date.

Snowden had commented in an NBC interview that he had not intended to take refuge in Russia, but was stuck there en route to Latin America when the US government suspended his passport.

Kerry responded that the whistleblower should “man up,” adding: “The fact is if he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust in the American system of justice.”

That our most senior diplomat still finds it acceptable to utter “man up” as a call to bravery is a misogyny-soaked problem enough to deserve its own column.

It carries a particularly grim resonance in the wake of Chelsea Manning's military trial and conviction. That whistleblower had to “man up” in the most literal of ways: She stood trial as Bradley Manning, her legal team determining it would do the case no favors to reveal her preferred name and gender identity during the court martial.

And, indeed, military psychologists testifying at the trial pathologized Manning's gender identity as a “disorder,” a designation that even the DSM-5 has scrapped. Chelsea Manning remains in a male prison. The point being, US justice has a cruel way of insisting that its victims “man up.” Kerry's use of the phrase is unwitting reminder of this.

Now to the meat of Kerry's argument: That if Snowden cared about America, he would return to it with faith that the US justice system is to be trusted. It would take tomes to list even a portion of the problems plaguing US justice.

To name a few: America incarcerates more of its population and more people per se than any other nation of earth and 95 percent of criminal cases don't even go to trial, but end in pleas because of the vast power held by prosecutors and vile minimum sentencing laws. Around 40 percent of our prison population is black (compared to 13 percent of the total population). The litany of harm is long and dark. No one, fugitive whistleblower or otherwise, should heed Kerry's call to “trust in the American justice system.”

Snowden's allegiance is to that old myth ‘America the free,' while Kerry aligns uncritically with ‘America the State.'

Chelsea Manning's 35-year sentence, hacktivistJeremy Hammond's ten-year sentence for his involvement in the Anonymous Stratfor hack, the jailing of former CIA analyst John Kiriakou for talking about torture all give Snowden ample reason for distrust. As, too, does the revelation this week that the White House Press Office accidentally released the name of a top CIA operative in Afghanistan — a potentially life-threatening leak, for which no one will be punished. The message rings loud from the executive: Do as I say, not as I do.

Kerry's words carry another troubling message. The underlying logic of his comment conflates “America” with the “American justice system.” But if US justice is an avatar for America, it stands not as a representative but rather as an opponent to millions of Americans. And herein, I believe, lies a fundamental difference between those who see Snowden as hero and those who see him as an enemy.

It's a question of allegiance. The sort of care Snowden has exhibited towards the US is a care for its citizens: their rights, freedoms and access to knowledge about how their lives are watched and policed. His, one might say, is an allegiance to that old myth, “America the free.” Kerry, meanwhile, shows his colors in aligning uncritically with “America the state.”

Unlike Snowden, I'm no patriot. But the secretary of state's assumption that one cannot be patriotic while challenging the misdeeds of state institutions misreads care for a country's purported ideals with its institutional representatives. It's a dangerous logic that opens the door to any number of abuses and oppressions.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Natasha Lennard is a journalist, commentator, and a news editor at Salon.Follow her on Twitter: @natashalennard

More from Commondreams

Tags: , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

1 Reader Comment

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1.' James Freeman says:

    I believe Mr. Kerry is wise enough to understand that Mr. Snowden loves America and most people that reside here, but he has a distrust of the US Federal government that has no problem telling untruths.
    After seeing how the US government has treated other whistleblowers and observing biased toward the US Federal government by the main stream media and their deceptive methods, can any person blame him for wanting to protect his life?
    If the US Federal government stopped treating the American public as if we were their enemies, and stopped making so many unconstitutional laws that restrict us from living the life our glorious creator has intended for us, they would have more respect and trust from the public.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use' must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Send this to a friend